Nearly 14 months after returning from her last record-setting deployment, the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman left Norfolk Naval Shipyard this morning and headed straight for open water in the Atlantic for sea trials — a day ahead of schedule .
Truman has been in Norfolk Naval Shipyard for the past 10 months following a planned incremental availability — a yard period she finished one day ahead of schedule — Navy officials told Navy Times.
Ushered by tugboats and security craft, Truman made the long transit through downtown Norfolk along the Elizabeth River, through Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake, a rare transit for a carrier.
“The number one goal for this ship over the last year was making it better than when it arrived here,” Capt. Ryan B. Scholl, Truman’s commanding officer, said in a Navy press release today. “This excitement, enthusiasm and teamwork is what propelled us out of the shipyard. Truman is ready to tackle the next stage of doing what carriers do.”
The work, which began last September, upgraded all of the ship’s communications and information technology networks, including an install of more than 3,000 consolidated afloat networks and Enterprise Services work stations as part of the Navy’s next generation tactical afloat network. It’s hoped that the upgraded networks and work stations will not only enhance operational missions, but will also provide sailors with better online access.
Navy sources tell Navy Times that Truman will start to work up next year for her next deployment as part of the Enhanced Fleet Response Plan. Truman was the last ship to deploy under the original FRP.
Nearly a quarter of the work done during the 10-month period was to fix nearly 4,500 reactor material items. Also, maintenance was performed on shipboard systems in preparation for future operations, including refurbishing 90,000 square feet of Truman’s hangar bay, 7,000 square feet of its flight deck combing and scuppers and 10,000 square feet of catwalk.
When not helping with the refurbishment of their ship, sailors were sent to training and qualification opportunities at Navy schools and aboard other ships.
“During this shipyard period, the ship sent 1,200 sailors to more than 77 different locations covering 395 different types of training,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Mykel Cruz in the release. “We also indoctrinated more than 600 new members to the crew,” including 300 who never served on a ship, he said.
Departing NNSY is the first step in a long road ahead for Truman. The ship is now preparing for an upcoming schedule consisting of various training exercises, placing emphasis on damage control, flight deck operations and simulated at-sea combat.
Officials say even with four carriers currently in port Norfolk — a rare occasion on the water front — she’ll have a parking space when she returns from trials.
In August, meanwhile, Truman’s sister ship, the Dwight D. Eisenhower, is scheduled for a planned shipyard visit. Also in August, the George Washington is slated to head to Newport News Shipyard and dry dock to kick off her mid-life overhaul, which is expected to last about four years.